Charges: West St. Paul kids, ages 6 and 9, forced to drink shots of liquor

While responding to a domestic assault call in West St. Paul on Friday, an Inver Grove Heights police officer found a 6-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy intoxicated with injuries -- a 4-year-old with bite marks all over, and a 1-year-old with a chipped tooth and broken blood vessels in his eye.

The two intoxicated children reported that their stepfather, Oscar Cruz, 28, of West St. Paul, forced them to take shots with him without their mother's knowledge.

The mother has been married to Cruz for five years. He is the father of the 1-year-old and 4-year-old, while the other two are from a previous relationship. They all live together in West St. Paul.

According to the criminal complaint, Cruz called the mother of the four children around 6 p.m. and said that her 6-year-old had got into his alcohol and was sick. When she arrived at home she found the 6-year-old on a couch that she had vomited on, with several whip/welt type marks on her arm as well as bite marks.

The 9-year-old told police that the 6-year-old came home from school with her shoes on the wrong feet, so Cruz whipped her with a vacuum cord. 

About 30 minutes later, the mom heard a loud thud noise and heard Cruz yelling at the 4-year-old child who was crying.

"The 4-year-old came into the living room and had blood dripping down the side of his face," the complaint states. She found four lacerations on top of the child's head, and fresh bite marks and scratches all over his body that appeared to have come from an adult size mouth. In addition, officers observed patterned bruising on his neck as an indication of strangulation.

According to the complaint, the mother has had concerns in the past when she has seen marks on the kids that Cruz could not explain or the explanations did not make sense. 

While the mother was speaking to an officer with the 1-year-old boy on her lap, he noticed the baby had a chipped tooth, broken blood vessels in his left eye, and bruises on his side and back. She said Cruz had told her the 1-year-old fell off the bunk bed the previous day.

The children were examined by Midwest Children's Resource Center for injuries, and "the 6-year-old was vomiting, appeared disheveled and was acting somewhat silly."

Cruz is being held at Dakota County and is being charged with third-degree assault, two counts of malicious punishment of a child, two counts of child endangerment and two counts of child neglect.

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